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It is common to date the beginning of the Renaissance to the mid-14th century. From the ashes of the Black Death emerged a society that was fundamentally changed, and to a large extent saw itself as re-born – formed anew. It cannot be a coincidence that this transformation first took place in the very parts of Europe that had been at the centre of the Roman Empire when at its strongest, in Italy. Florence became the main powerhouse of the new Europe, and from there the Renaissance spread rapidly, bringing an intense cultural flowering to France, England, the Netherlands, Germany and Spain. It is from these countries that Nordic Brass Ensemble has assembled the repertoire for “European Tour” – music arranged specially for this ensemble by Hans Petter Stangnes and Stian Aareskjold. Modern brass instruments have a history going back to the Janissaries, the Ottoman sultan’s special military corps. Contact between Renaissance Europe and Islamic culture helped determine how European culture, and in particular its music, would develop in this period. Nordic Brass Ensemble is made up of musicians from symphony orchestras and wind ensembles in the Nordic countries, and it has always played early music.
Nordic Brass Ensemble was founded in 1993 by a group of brass musicians who shared a strong desire to make chamber music together. From the start, the ensemble has focused on developing its own musical ideas and concepts of sound. By exploiting the different instruments’ special qualities and combining them in new and unusual ways, and by extensively using mutes, percussion and, indeed, unfamiliar instruments to create new colours and effects, the ensemble is continuously shaping its distinct sound.